June 08, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Coalition Warships Intercept Drug Smugglers
By Task Force 150 Public Affairs
ARABIAN SEA –A coalition effort involving ships from Commander Task Force (CTF) 150, under Commodore Anthony Rix Royal Navy, led to the seizure of more than 2.3 tons of hashish here in international waters June 4.
The French frigate Commandant Birot (F796) boarded the motor vessel Safari during a routine visit to vessels operating in the region to verify shipping documents and states of registry. The boarding team found the hashish wrapped up in 105 bags, each containing 20 one-kilogram bricks of hashish with a total weight of more than 2.3 tons.
“This is a significant success for the maritime coalition in the Arabian Sea and will deter others from doing the same,” said CTF150 Commander, Commodore Anthony Rix Royal Navy. “International co-operation has ensured that we are cracking down on illicit maritime activities and we will continue to do so.”
A French land-based maritime patrol aircraft also assisted in the operation.
Birot is deployed in the region to conduct maritime security operations (MSO) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. MSO set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. MSO deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.
MSO pressurize the maritime environment by using coalition ships to detect, deter and deny illegal use of the high seas. Birot is stationed in the Arabian Sea as a part of this coalition effort.
The drugs were confiscated and transferred, along with the passengers on board Safari , to USS O'Kane (DDG 77), another CTF 150 asset operating in the area.
O'Kane will transfer Safari for follow-on disposition by the appropriate legal authorities. The Safari crew and all evidence, including the drugs, will be handed over to the appropriate authorities to assist their prosecution of this case.
The naval task force has operated here for roughly four years and is well familiar with its 2.5 million square miles of water.
Birot and O'Kane have conducted numerous queries and boardings since arriving on station in the region to conduct MSO.
Birot has been serving as part of the coalition in Operation Enduring Freedom conducting MSO in the Indian Ocean since April 12. O'Kane deployed from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Feb. 7 and has been assigned to CTF-150 since arriving to the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command area of responsibility.